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Crews battle blaze atop Mt. Baldy

May 14, 2008|Molly Hennessy-Fiske | Times Staff Writer

Firefighters are battling a 300-acre wildfire on Mt. Baldy in the Angeles National Forest.

The Big Horn fire was reported about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Bear Flat area about 45 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles, said Sherry Rollman, spokeswoman for the national forest.

With winds at 15 to 20 mph and gusting to 60 mph in the area, about 240 firefighters had not brought the blaze under control as of about 2:30 p.m., said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Dee Deckert. Five helicopters were brought in to fight the fire, she said. Fire officials also ordered flame-retardant-dropping planes, but pilots were unable to fly because of the high winds, Deckert said.

By afternoon, fire officials had closed Mt. Baldy Road at Shinn Road and Glendora Ridge Road at Mt. Baldy and East Fork roads, although the roads remained open to residents, Deckert said.

Firefighters also evacuated six hiking cabins as flames burned southwest toward L.A. County, Deckert said.

No structures had burned and flames were burning away from residential areas Tuesday afternoon, but firefighters were concerned that rising temperatures this week could help the fire spread, she said.

"The heat is a concern in terms of fighting the fire and it also heats up the fuels before it gets there so it burns quicker," Deckert said.

She said fire officials also worry about the severity of this year's fire season.

"They're real worried about this fire season. It has the potential to be extremely damaging because of the ongoing drought and the dried fuels."

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molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

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